Comic-BEE for Cyber Security

Cyber Security Education

/ / / Comic-BEE for Cyber Security
Comic-BEE for Cyber Security2019-01-15T14:44:52+00:00

Comic-BEE: Comic Based Education and Evaluation

A tool for creating interactive curriculum for cyber security
Comic-BEE (formerly known as CyberWISE) is a web-based technology designed to assist cyber security educators and subject matter experts, who are neither programmers nor artists, to develop web-based branching, graphic stories ( “choose-your-own-adventure” stories) that are closely aligned with instructional goals.

Comic-BEE is sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate under Contract number: HSHQDC-14-B0019.


There is a pressing need for more and better education about cyber security – it is no longer the exclusive domain of specialists, but something everyone should be familiar with. With the rapid evolution of risks, education needs to be an ongoing process. Educators need tools to help impart memorable and meaningful lessons to students at all levels, from children to seniors, students to the workforce, novice to professional. Explaining cause and effect of cyber events can be difficult: they don’t always occur in a context that is easily or immediately visible. How can we help people of all ages and backgrounds explore both risky and safe cyber behaviors, make choices, and see the consequences of those choices all in a safe environment?

Branching interactive storytelling

Stories are powerful teaching tools: they build on prior experience through analogy and metaphor, and can be used with any group (students to workforce, kids and adults). Branching, graphic “choose your own adventure” stories take it further by letting readers make choices on behalf of a character, causing the story to follow a variety of branches with different outcomes. This is a novel genre for teaching safe computing because these stories give the learner an opportunity to make decisions and, more importantly, explore the consequences of those decisions in a safe environment.

Until now, creating these branching, graphic stories as curricula has been labor-intensive, requiring the combined skills of domain experts, education scientists, graphic artists, and programmers.


Comic-BEE is a tool for educators that integrates the curricula- and comic-creation workflows; you build your lesson and the interactive story that will teach that lesson all in one integrated process. There’s no need to acquire, learn, and integrate a basket of unrelated tools. The unified user interface of Comic-BEE lets you plan, design, and create graphic branching stories in a single easy to use web-based application. And the best part is that no programmers or artists are required.

Plan the lesson

Comic-BEE guides you to identify important attributes of target learners, and information about the specific topic such as key concepts and real-life scenarios, including decisions and choices that illustrate the concepts being taught. You define specific learning objectives within the context of Bloom’s Taxonomy, and the real-life scenarios can be associated with learning concepts.

Write the script

The lesson plan helps develop the script. Scenarios appear as possible story scenes, and creating additional scenes and choices grows the branching storyline as a graph, showing the relationship of scenes and branches in the story. Choices from a scene are associated to specific learning objectives, and are connected to scenes that illustrate the consequences of the choice.

Layout the storyboard

After completing the branching script you begin storyboarding the comic, using a collection of comic panel layouts and a library of low-fidelity graphics. The selection of graphic assets are intentionally constrained in this phase, to focus on dividing the visual layout between text (dialog and narration) and pictures (characters, setting, props, and actions).

Create the final comic

Once the storyboard is complete, Comic-BEE helps you turn it into final artwork comic panels. A deep library of higher-quality graphic assets is provided, so you can assemble a visually compelling work with no artistic skills required. The comic is then ready to be made available to your learners, under your complete control.

Key Benefits

Innovative Education

  • A new cyber security educational technology that is engaging to learners across many age groups

  • Provides visual interface to story structure, greatly simplifying the task of modifying a branching story

Rapid Development

  • Create cyber curricula using branching graphic stories in days, rather than the weeks required by current manual process

Easy to Deploy and Use

  • No distribution or per-user fees: once you create a story you can use it as much as you like

  • Published comics can be hosted on any web server

Collaborate with Comic-BEE by sharing lesson plans, scripts and storyboards. Sharing of comic material among educators will further enrich the available cyber security curriculum, and enable educators to tailor existing comics for their own students.

Future Work

Comic-BEE is a long-term initiative that will expand the reach and impact of critically important lessons. We have already identified ways to grow the technology to increase its value.

Exercises and competitions have been well established as powerful vehicles for cyber security education. We plan to add a scoring engine to Comic-BEE, enabling the comics to become a new competition approach, providing an alternative to Capture the Flag type (CTF) competitions for younger and less technical competitors.

For more information about Comic-BEE, please contact Secure Decisions at 631-759-3988, or reach us through our contact page.